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Henry Moore, O.M., C.H. (1898-1986)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Henry Moore, O.M., C.H. (1898-1986)

Standing Figure

Henry Moore, O.M., C.H. (1898-1986)
Standing Figure
bronze with a gold/brown patina
4 5/8 in. (11.7 cm.) high, excluding slate base
Conceived in 1933.
The Henry Moore Foundation have kindly confirmed that the present work is cast in a known edition of four.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 22 February 1989, lot 203, where purchased by the present owner.
A. Bowness (ed.), Henry Moore, Complete Sculpture: 1980-86, Vol. 6, Addenda to Volume 1 1921-48, London, 1999, p. 25, no. 130a, illustrated.
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Lot Essay

‘Nothing reveals itself completely in life or art. There is always more behind it than you think’ (Henry Moore quoted in H. Moore and J. Hedgecoe, Henry Moore: my ideas, inspiration and life as an artist, London, 1999, p. 90)

Conceived in 1933, Standing Figure stems from a period often regarded as one of the most innovative and original in Moore’s career. Moore’s reputation grew as one of the leading modern sculptors in Europe: in 1928, he had his first one-man show, in 1930, he represented Britain at the XVIII Venice Biennale, and by 1939 the Tate Gallery had made their first acquisiton of one of his sculptures.

The 1930s art scene in England was largely defined by group exhibitions and manifestoes. In 1933 Moore was living in Hampstead, amongst what Herbert Read described as ‘a nest of gentle artists’ (H. Read, Art in Britain, 1930-1940, London, 1965, p. 7). He was one of the founding members of Unit One - a group of eleven avant-garde painters, sculptors and architects who were set to ‘stand for the expression of a truly contemporary spirit, for that thing which is recognised as peculiarly of today in painting, sculpture and architecture’ (Paul Nash, The Times, 12 June 1933). In his writing for the published manifesto of the group from 1934, Moore analyses his practice as a sculptor and defines his aim to capture the vitality of the universe, the mysterious existence of nature and the secret current of one’s primary feeling. He confirms the importance of the human figure as his main source of inspiration. He notes: ‘The human figure is what interests me most deeply…’ (Henry Moore quoted in A. Wilkinson (ed.), Henry Moore Writings and Conversations, Berkeley, 2002, p. 192).

Conceived during this time of inspiration, Standing Figure has a special place in the sculptor’s oeuvre. The dynamism and rhythm created by the crevices invites the viewer to engage with the piece. One notices a faint bend in the figure’s head which leads one’s gaze to a round form emerging from the figure’s chest. Despite the title alluding to a singular figure, the work reveals itself as a depiction of a mother and child. This universally recognisable subject is meticulously modelled by the artist’s hand, distilled to a few small forms that hint at the subject. Standing Figure is amongst the earliest figurative representations of the theme, which would preoccupy the sculptor for the rest of his career. Standing Figure embodies Moore’s aim as a sculptor to imbue his works with their own inner force. It is only when a piece has its own vitality, that it can have a life of its own: ‘When looking at one of my sculptures, I think it’s like a journey, each time you return you see something different, something new’ (Henry Moore quoted in H. Moore and J. Hedgecoe, Henry Moore: my ideas, inspiration and life as an artist, London, 1999, p. 79).

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